Contra Costa County

Supes Approve License Plate Readers for Discovery Bay

The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a request from the sheriff's office to acquire 21 automated license plate readers, or ALPRs, to be installed at key locations in the vicinity of Discovery Bay.

The controversial technology records the time, date and location each time a vehicle with a license plate passes by, building a database investigators can use to establish a path of travel of suspects or even victims in criminal cases.

The tool can assist in all kinds of investigations, from robbery to rape or murder, but critics at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have said its indiscriminate nature means that even individuals who are not suspected of a crime are subject to scrutiny.

They've also raised concerns about when and how local law enforcement might share the data generated by an ALPR with outside agencies such as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

During brief comments before the vote, Supervisor Candace Andersen stated that she had double-checked with sheriff's office personnel, and they had assured her that data generated by the county's ALPR system is not made available to ICE.

The plan, which passed 4-0 with Supervisor Diane Burgis absent, will come at a total cost of $331,000, including equipment, installation and planned maintenance.

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